Real-Time Performance Data

Knowledge is power. The faster we get the information the better. In more and more aspects of our lives, we expect information in real-time or near real-time.

Real-time performance data are transmitted to users immediately, as soon as the data are produced. Delay is limited to the actual time required to transmit the data to the users. In a communications system, propagation delay refers to the time lag between the departure of a signal from the source and the arrival of the signal at the destination. Think of the real-time data you get from the speedometer of your car as you drove to work this morning. How much propagation delay would you tolerate? I’d say, none. Zippo! We push on the brake or accelerator and we expect information feedback in real-time.

Now think of the way we typically produce and transmit court performance data. How much propagation delay are we willing to tolerate? It seems like plenty.

Consider the status quo of court performance information generation and distribution today. Standardized written reports, typically limited to case processing data, are produced by court IT departments or state administrative offices of courts. (Far too often, performance data collection and distribution are done by and for others -- state administrative offices of the courts, county government, or funding agencies -- in timeframes that are not helpful or, worse, disruptive to court operations and management.) The reports are then printed and distributed. Weeks or months may pass between the generation of the performance data and the production of the reports. A report might not reach the attention of a potential user for months after the performance data are generated. If they are permitted at all, requests for any “special” or ad hoc reports are reviewed and handled by court analysts or statisticians and passed on to IT departments.

Talk about propagation delay! Consider the absurdity of getting a print-out of your car’s speed from your state’s DVM on a monthly basis instead of from your car’s speedometer in real-time.

The more timely the performance feedback, the more useful it is to court leaders, managers and staff. Real-time or near real-time should be the standard. Automated court performance measurement displays, powered by real-time analytical software, are on the horizon and are making real-time court performance data – and the elimination of propagation delay – not just a dream.

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